Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Inspiration! The sweet freedom of not having so many things


I was going to post this week about the joys of getting rid of things.  I recently did a wardrobe cleanse, where I mercilessly got rid of anything I didn't really want to have.  Yes, I still have more clothes than I need (purge 2.0 is coming), but as soon as I was done, I felt sweet, sweet freedom.

Then Black "Friday" and its multi-week extravaganza of sales came along (it's infiltrated Canada now, too) and I felt this sudden obligation to buy things.  Like I was going to be a fool if I didn't take up every retailer in the world on their amazing deals, even though I don't really want them.

This was strange.  I love a deal.  I am a Mennonite.  We are stingy.  Usually I get pretty into big sales - I go through the deals and figure out what I will need in the future so I can maximize the savings for as long as possible.  This year, though?  I just didn't want to.

Then today I read this article in Quarz titled "How the American middle class has lost its taste for mindless consumerism".  This brought joy to my heart (oh how our disposable consumer culture makes me feel all heavy inside), and seems to tie in nicely with my desire to purge without the subsequent binge.  With my unexpected internal rejection of the biggest sale day of the year.

You see, lately I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by life.  Everything has been a bit too much.

This "too much" feeling has transferred over from work and other projects and obligations to every area, including all my stuff.

Having a lot of things used to feel like a safety: it meant that if I ever needed something, I would have it.  I would be okay.  I won't have to go buy it later when I potentially won't be able to afford it.  The fact that I have 30 pairs of underwear and 20 plates and a bunch of dresses I don't even want to wear made me all secure-feeling.

Sure, there's some logic behind this, as well as a wonderful rejection of the disposability and consumerism that teaches us to buy newer, shinier things and throw away anything that isn't perfect or immediately useful because we can just buy another one anyway.

So there is a balance to be struck - somewhere between usefulness, quality, and cost (both in terms of money and space).  All these considerations, plus the Marie Kondo "Spark Joy" craze, has inspired me to re-evaluate all my things.  What am I holding on to, and why?  What am I buying, and why?

Saying no to a purchase doesn't have to be an exercise in self-denial.  Instead, maybe it can be an exercise in self-realization and freedom.

In the same vein, letting go of things we own doesn't have to be a painful ordeal of letting go.  It can be an experience of gratitude for the functions things once served and the usefulness they can bring again to someone else.

So let this be your inspiration - whatever you're holding on to that you don't actually want anymore, be honest with yourself about it, and let it go with joy and thanksgiving.  Whatever you think you need to buy because it's Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Give Us All Your Money Day, let's be honest with ourselves about those, too.  Are we bringing items of usefulness, quality, or beauty into our lives?  Things that we will be glad to have around in a month or a year?  Maybe leave it for someone else to enjoy instead.

Who needs all that extra junk around, anyways?

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